Posts

Double Dreaming: Chiang Mai 0-2 Port FC

Port travelled up to Chiang Mai’s adopted home ground in Chiang Rai after Port’s incredible penalty shootout win over long time bogey team Bangkok United in the FA cup semi-final on Wednesday. This game was never going to live up to that dramatic spectacle, but a win was needed to try and keep Port within touching distance of the top of the table. Most Port fans were expecting a win against arguably the poorest side in the league in bottom of the table Chiang Mai, also known as Chiang Rai reserves. However, we all knew that Port could experience a Chiang over and needed to avoid ruining our title hopes by failing to win here. This one will not go down as a classic, but at the end of the day we got the much-needed win. Now, I don’t want to get your hopes up too much and I’ll whisper it quietly but, Port are still in with a chance of doing the FA cup/league double this season.

Avoiding some of the busier bars in Bangkok due to the rugby, I joined a few of the Port faithful and settled down with a Leo to watch the evening’s entertainment. Port started with a pretty strong line up, the only two changes from midweek being Josimar (30) and Blackburn (99) starting for an injured Suarez and an ineligible Rochela. A surprise inclusion was Kevin (97), who after being injured for so long and playing in the midweek fixture I assumed would be given a rest. The biggest shock came from Chiang Mai who decided to drop their three foreign forwards: Caique (7), Eliandro (9) and Azadzoy (10). This one seemed like it should be a walkover.

 

 

However, the first half left a lot to be desired. The main talking points were how it seemed like Blackburn was born offside and how strange it looked to see Chiang Rai’s stadium so empty. Port had more of the possession and were arguably the better side, but it was overall a pretty drab first half. The aforementioned Blackburn did have the ball in the back of the net early on in the first half. A great cross in behind the defenders from Pakorn (7) found a free Blackburn to head it past the Chiang Mai keeper Narit (1). Our celebrations were short lived however, as it was correctly ruled offside.

A few minutes later Kevin put a lovely ball into the box that was cushioned down into Blackburn’s path by Josimar, only for it to be smashed into the side of the net and once again ruled offside. I’ll let Blackburn off for his offsides due to his cheeky penalty on Wednesday. Chiang Mai were limited to long range shots that never really threatened Worawut (36). 0-0 at the break and not many chances created. We couldn’t help wondering if Port were going to throw away a golden opportunity to close the gap at the top.

The second half started much the same as the first and after 58 minutes Port made their first change, bringing on Steuble (15) for a very quiet Pakorn (7), meaning that Kevin was pushed forward. This move surprised me as it seemed like a defensive change, but I was soon made to eat my own words as Port’s football seemed to greatly improve. The first chance of the half came after Josimar had a decent effort from distance well saved by Narit. Eventually the deadlock was broken after a good bit of football. After a few passes that started at the back with Tanaboon (71), Go (8) fed the ball into Blackburn in the middle of the box and after a nice little turn, he laid it off to Josimar. At this point you’d expect me to say he slotted it home, but instead he smashed it against a Chiang Mai defender’s hand and it deflected into the net. It doesn’t matter how they go in. 1-0 to Port.

 

 

By this point the whole team seemed lifted and it didn’t take long for Port to get another. A few minutes after the first goal, Bodin (10) played a ball into the box that really should have been dealt with by the Chiang Mai defence. It wasn’t and the ball fell kindly to Kevin on the edge of the box who was able to slot it into the bottom right corner. Great finish. 2-0 to Port.

Chiang Mai’s best effort came in the dying moments of the game as Worawut made a fine save to deny Chiang Mai’s Chotipat (21), but in general this was a poor performance from the hosts (if you can really call them hosts). Based on this display they’ll do well to stay up.

Overall, this wasn’t a vintage performance from Port, far from it, but at this stage of the campaign a win is a win, it doesn’t matter how we get them. Port have a game in hand and a win on Friday against Korat will see us just two points behind the league leaders. As I’m sure you’re very well aware, we also have the small matter of the FA cup final on the 2nd November. I had to put a bit a sensationalism in the headline, but if you ask me if I really think we’ll do the double, the answer is a definite ‘no’. But is it possible? We can dream.

 

The Sandpit’s Man of the Match: Kevin Deeromram

 

 

It’s easy to pick a goalscorer for man of the match, but I genuinely feel he was the best player on the pitch for us today. Kevin didn’t have much to worry about defensively but looked great going forward particularly in the second half. He put in some decent crosses and it was an excellent finish for his goal. Great to see him playing well after so long on the side lines. Long may it continue!

 

FA Cup Chiang-Over? Chiang Mai FC vs. Port FC Preview

 

Port’s scarcely believable penalty shootout victory over Bangkok United may have put Port fans’ heads in the clouds, but both fans and players are going to have to have to come back down to earth and adjust to a very different reality for Sunday’s away clash against Chiang Mai.

Wednesday’s victory, against a team most fancied to overcome Port, was a victory against the odds, not to mention against a team who we hadn’t beaten in… well, forever pretty much. It was also in front of thousands of vocal Port fans cheering their team come rain or… well, just rain really. The Lanna Tigers are bottom of the table, playing in a stadium which may as well be empty, and there is unlikely to be much of a traveling contingent in the stands. We’ve all seen Port defy the odds against superior opposition before crashing and burning against teams we should be beating comfortably. Overconfidence seems to be as much part of our DNA as Leo and shit strikers.

Having said that, Chiang Mai are well and truly there for the taking. Let’s see why.

 

Chiang Mai FC

Players to Watch

 

Top of my list has to be Brazilian striker Eliandro (9). This monster of a forward is practically bursting out of Chiang Mai’s very attractive shirts, and doesn’t mind throwing his weight around. After an electric start to the season though, Eliandro has slowed down considerably, and isn’t playing with the same free-scoring confidence we saw from him when he burst on to the T1 scene. I could say the same about Mustafa Azadzoy (10), the Afghan forward who usually plays as a no.10 has similarly slowed down after an excellent start. Rounding out the front three is one of the nine (yes, 9) loanees from sister club Chiang Rai: Caique (7). Signed by Chiang Rai, presumably just so he could be loaned to Chiang Mai, Caique has netted 3 times in 8 games since his arrival. I haven’t seen enough of him to give much of a judgment, but just looking at the numbers it’s a respectable return for a struggling team.

 

 

When I saw that Chiang Mai had signed Nattawut Sombatyotha (11) from Ratchaburi in mid-season I thought he’d do an excellent job for them. He’s probably not playing as far forward as he’d like, but he’s still nailed down a first team place and scored twice since his arrival. He’s also rid himself of that horrible blonde mop and looks normal again, which helps. Nattawut is best deployed as an attacking midfielder, but with Chiang Mai basically already having three up top he’s had to fulfil a role with more defensive responsibility.

 

 

Speaking of defensive responsibility, most of that falls on Brazilian centre half Evson Patricio (30). He’s one of those defenders who it’s quite hard to judge based on the fact that he’s playing with a load of dross at the back. The most recent of that dross is actually former Port squad player Worawut Namvech (34), who has started the last few games at centre back, but may not be fit having been withdrawn before the half hour mark last time out. Well, I say he may not be fit, just look at him…

 

 

In goal, Nont (20) has fallen out of favour after failing to perform consistently, so the more experienced Narit (1) has stepped in.

 

 

Form

 

The last 6 games look like this for Chiang Mai. They’ve taken two massive wins from 4 home games, but having failed to get on the score sheet in the last 2 games, they are still big favourites for the drop. The real worry is their failure to score, which has not really been a problem for them all season until now. They’ve got plenty of attacking talent, but have been conceding goals for fun all season, as they have done in each of their last 6.

  • Prachuap 2-0 Chiang Mai
  • Chiang Mai 0-1 Suphanburi
  • Chiang Mai 5-1 Korat
  • Chiang Mai 1-3 Trat
  • Chiang Mai 2-1 Chonburi
  • Chainat 2-2 Chiang Mai

 

Port FC

Feet on the Ground

 

Port need to approach this game with as much professionalism as they can muster. Changes should be made from the side who triumphed in the cup, both to make sure the XI who take the field are fit and raring to go, and to make sure players are fresh to face tougher opposition in Port’s tricky run-in.

Suarez (5) is likely to be an enforced change, with the Spaniard sporting an extremely swollen ankle after an extremely dirty tackle from Peerapat on Wednesday. Josimar (30) and Rolando (99) are both available to lead the line, with Josi raring to go after being cup-tied, and Rolando still grinning like a Cheshire cat after making a mug of Falkesgaard in the penalty shootout. What. A. Finish.

One of Go (8) or Siwakorn (16) should probably be due a rest, but Choke may be nervous removing either of the two, who are among the most consistent players in the team.

Likewise at the back, sitting out Dolah (4) seems unthinkable, and Choke doesn’t seem to be able to bring himself not to start Tanaboon (17). I’m sure we could get away with giving Nitipong (34), who put in an astonishingly hard-working performance, a well-deserved breather. Steuble (15) could cover at right back, with Kevin (97) or Panpanpong (19) stepping in on the left hand side.

In goal, Worawut (36) got a nasty cut on his back making an incredible save from Jaycee John, but we’re not sure if he’ll have recovered in time for this one. Rattanai (17) put in an assured performance in his absence, keeping out his second and third penalties of the season in the shoot-out, and as we don’t tire of saying, Port have three no1’s at our disposal anyway. Worawut can take as much time to recover as he likes with both Rattanai and Watchara ready and able to step in.

 

Predicted Lineup

 

 


 

The match will be shown live on True4U and True Sports HD at 18:00 on Sunday 22 September, 2019. For those who can’t make it to Chiang Mai, The Sportsman on Sukhumvit 13 will show the match on a big screen with sound. We’re expecting a big crowd (in the pub, not the stadium) so get there early to bag the best seats. Don’t forget to wear your Port shirt for a 10% discount on drinks.

 

Know Your Enemy: Dirty Dozen

 

Gameweek 7

Results and Highlights

 

With last week’s Songkran holiday I didn’t have time to keep up with all of the gameweek 7 action, so in the absence of my reports above are the results and highlights of the action. All you really need to know is that due to Port’s resurgence in form and Buriram’s match being postponed, Port went top of the league, while an agonizing late concession from Suphanburi sent them bottom to the fortune of Muangthong, who went in to their gameweek 8 with clash in second bottom on goals scored. Indulge me a second while I bask in the hilarity of Muangthong being lucky to be second bottom.

 

Port 5-0 Prachuap

Bangkok United 4-0 Suphanburi

Trat 1-1 Samut Prakan City

Sukhothai 0-0 Chonburi

Ratchaburi 0-2 Chiang Rai

Korat 3-1 Muangthong

 

Gameweek 8

The Action

 

OK, there we go. Now, on to gameweek 8.

Buriram, as I mentioned, missed their last fixture, meaning that they needed victory over strugglers Trat to replace Port at the top of the league. There have been a lot of personnel changes for the champs throughout this season, with the most notable being the ignominious exit of big summer arrival and former Premier League player Modibo Maiga. Fortunately for Buriram, strike partner Pedro Junior has been picking up the slack in Maiga’s absence, while the gradual introduction of Japanese star midfielder Hajime Hosogai is now complete, with the former Budesliga man now finally fit to start. Fit being the operative word. This guy is an absolute workhorse. For the entire 90 minutes against Trat he never stopped running, harassing, putting his body on the line and providing a platform for his team’s creative talents to build on. I would credit him with most likely having most touches of the ball, most fouls, and most fouled. The Genki Nagasato award for effort can be handed out now. Unfortunately for Buriram, Hosogai’s hard work didn’t lead to much up top. Pedro returned to his early season form, looking anonymous and devoid of ideas, and the same could be said of most of his teammates throughout a poor first half for the favourites.

 

 

Trat stuck to the tactics that have served them well enough so far this season – putting Doumbouya up against physically inferior centre backs and hoping that he eats them alive – and once again he was as voracious as ever. Filipino-Austrian full back Stephan Palla, playing out of position on the left hand side of Buriram’s back 3, was the latest victim. Doumbouya shrugged him off like he wasn’t there just before the hour mark, running on to Chenrop’s hopeful flick and powering his way through before deftly chipping it over Siwarak. 10 minutes later Trat survived one of the most ludicrous goal mouth scrambles I’ve ever seen, but a few minutes later substitutes Sasalak, Supachai and 16 year old Suphanat Muenta, who recently became the AFC Champions League’s youngest ever scorer, eventually combined to draw Buriram level. It wasn’t to be enough for the champs though, who now had to watch and hope that Port wouldn’t extend the lead to 4 points when they faced Muangthong on Saturday.

As we well though know, having faith in Muangthong this season is a losing strategy. The report on a wonderful, mental day for Port fans is here courtesy of Linny Russell, although a sad, salty Muangthong fan in the comments section also plays a starring role.

Buriram, and indeed Port, were given another surprising bonus on Saturday, with underdogs Chainat the latest team to expose Bangkok United’s much discussed poor early season form. This time I can find absolutely no fault with Mano Polking’s team selection – he went with Havenaar and Bonilla up front and picked more or less the team that I would consider is his strongest – but still Bangkok have been unable to string a couple of polished performances together in 2019. The defence was culpable for Chainat’s opener, as Bangkok allowed both of Chainat’s strikers a chance to take a swing at a loose ball in the box. Leandro missed the ball almost completely, but Ricardo Santos eventually connected to send the ball past a wrong-footed Falkesgaard. I have only watched the highlights, but as seems as though Anon Amonlerdsak was a bright spark for Bangkok, hitting the post and drawing a save from Teerath, but it’s all about converting chances, no matter how scrappy, and that’s what Chainat did again in the 53rd minute. Kiatisak Jia-udom (no, me neither) seemed to have been foiled by Falkesgaard, but the ball trickled agonizingly towards goal where a combination of Chainat forward Chatri and Bangkok defender Everton bundled the ball home to extend Chainat’s lead. They all count. Ricardo was fractionally out with a monster volley, and soon after Bangkok spurned a good chance when both Bonilla and Everton went for the same ball, putting each other off. Bonilla did much better on 74 minutes, finding a superb cross just as the ball looked to be going out of play, and Bangkok’s super sub Leesaw was on hand to head home. Two minutes later the assistant ref did a good job spotting Ricardo Santos basically punching Manuel Bihr in the face as Bangkok prepared to take a freekick and the Brazilian was rightfully sent packing, but even the 10 men of Chainat were able to hold on to a precious three points, heaping yet more pressure on Bangkok United. Last season at this stage they put together 11 successive wins, and they’ll need to do something similar if they’re to mount another serious title challenge this season.

PTT Rayong hosted Ratchaburi in another game I didn’t watch, but the highlights show that Yannick Boli, Steeven Langil and Philip Roller starred in a comfortable Ratchaburi win. Boli won and cheekily converted a penalty, then Roller provided one of the assists of the season with a magnificent run down the left, before crossing to Langil who converted smartly. Langil then turned on the style with a magnificent third, making Ariel Rodriguez’ 92nd minute toe-poke nothing more than a consolation. With Boli, Langil, Kang Soo-il and Roller on form, this is a dangerous Ratchaburi side, although they do have their problems at the back, particularly in goal.

 

 

I won’t bother you too much with the details of Chiang Rai’s 1-1 draw against Samut Prakan City as there are much more exciting results to talk about on Sunday. This was a 1-1 draw in which William Henrique scored an excellent equalizer for Chiang Rai.

Bottom club Suphanburi’s clash with surprisingly high-flying Korat was of interest to Port fans, as a draw or better from Suphan would see them lift themselves off the bottom, leaving our darling rivals where they belong. Despite a slow start, Suphanburi’s talented squad eventually found their flow and confidence, making it a comfortable 3-1 win. Bernard Henri did put Korat in the lead, but the chances were almost exclusively being created at the other end. Samuel Cunningham was very busy in the Korat goal, making some superb saves to keep the scores level, but he also had some help from the Suphanburi strike force. Cleiton, looking utterly bereft of confidence, was guilty of a few wild shots, while Jonatan Reis was looking more frustrated by the minute. It took a substitute to snap Suphan out of their slump, and it was English-born Filipino Mark Hartmann who connected with a tricky header to send the home fans wild, and breathe life back in to the slumbering War Elephant. Even Cleiton managed to find the target a few minutes later after a scramble in the box, then Reis rounded things off with a decisive volley in the dying moments. Three goals for three foreign forwards which ought to give their talented squad the confidence to find the form to push them up the table where they belong.

The Prachuap vs. Sukhothai clash escaped my attention, but I’m told it was a riveting end-to-end clash with numerous chances for both sides. Jhon Baggio hit the bar twice with the same shot in the first half, but both sides somehow went in to the break scoreless. 5 minutes in to the second half Baggio once again peppered the woodwork. His shot hit the bar and then the post but this time just about crossed the line, giving Sukhothai a deserved lead. It was Prachuap’s turn to hit the woodwork in a frantic late passage of play which, in injury time, finally resulted in a Prachuap equalizer. It was horribly indecisive defending from Indonesian Yanto Basna which allowed Matheus Alves to sneak in and score, meaning that Sukhothai now have a remarkable 1 win and 7 draws so far this season. Being unbeaten isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

 

 

Last, and most certainly not least, Chonburi vs. Chiang Mai. What a game. There were 12 goals in total, with the Sharks netting an astonishing 7 to Chiang Mai’s 5. I only switched on for the second half, with Chonburi already 4-2 up. Lukian had netted every single goal for the hosts. Bloody hell. Surely the second half can’t be as mental. Wrong. Lukian added another to equal Boskovic’s single game scoring record of 5, then Chonburi actually wasted a few good chances before Sithu Aung scored a worldie and young Thai forward Sittichok Paso also got himself on the scoresheet. Chonburi captain and former Port star Kroekrit Thaweekarn was also involved with many of the goals, despite not scoring himself. Chiang Mai’s front three didn’t do too badly, either. Mustafa Azadzoy scored twice, highly rated young Thai star Eakanit Panya got one and Eliandro poached another. Substitute Wanmai Setthanan got the final goal for Chiang Mai, who must look to their defence to explain how they managed to score 5 goals and lose. It must be said I don’t think I’ve seen a worse defensive display. Ever. They were an absolute shambles. I can’t wait for Port to play this lot!

 

Public Enemy Number One

 

 

From my last recap… “He’s looking like becoming a regular on my shortlist, so I’d better get it out of the way and give the award to Lukian this time.” Well, he’s only gone and equaled the T1 single game scoring record, so I can’t very well give it to anyone else this week either. Lukian is a seriously effective striker and a serious contender for the golden boot this year.

Other shortlisted players are Kroekrit, Azadzoy – the first time three players in one match have made the shortlist – Baggio, Cunningham, Langil and Hosogai. Unsurprisingly, with the exception of Cunningham and Hosogai, it’s mostly attacking players as not a single team managed to keep a clean sheet. Thai League, I love you.

 

Results and Highlights

 

Buriram 1-1 Trat

Chainat 2-1 Bangkok

PTT Rayong 1-3 Ratchaburi

Chiang Rai 1-1 Samut Prakan City

Muangthong 1-2 Port

Suphanburi 3-1 Korat

Prachuap 1-1 Sukhothai

Chonburi 7-5 Chiang Mai

 

League Table

 

 

Know Your Enemy: Chainese Burn

 

I know what the fans want. Let’s give them what they want. First up, the incredible capitulation of Port’s greatest rivals went in to overdrive in a result reminiscent of the 0-6 annihilation by Prachuap. This time Muangthong let even more unfancied opposition have their way with them, with relegation candidates Chainat sticking 3 goals without reply past the fallen giants of Thai football. Whilst the attacking was pitiful from the last team to unseat Buriram as champs, the defending was absolute filth. Chainat’s first came via a header, with neither the crosser nor the striker particularly pressured by Muangthong’s obliging back line. Then, Korean midfielder Lee Ho passed it straight to a Chainat striker from a freekick, allowing a simple second goal. The third was a real screamer from the first ever Laotian T1 goalscorer Soukaphone, as if you needed another reason to watch the highlights. The main point to be made here has to be about Muangthong’s defence, though. At the moment they’re starting with the hilariously overrated short-arse Adisorn Promrak and the inexperienced short-arse Saringkan Promsupa in central defence. They’re both 5 foot 9. Their full backs are also miserably inadequate for a team with even top half ambitions. Yes they’ve been unfortunate with an injury to their new Korean centre half, but as I warned in my recap of Muangthong’s transfer activity, you need more than that in defence if you’re going to challenge for anything other than relegation.

Read more